Please tell us something about yourself, Cindy. Secrets & Charades is your debut novel. Tell us a bit about your writing journey?
Secrets & Charades took ten years to get published. I’ve been writing off and on since high school. Through those decades I’ve been published in a variety of periodicals and when my oldest was small I wrote scripts for Children’s Bible Hour and short stories for Bread for Children magazine. As they grew, and our life changed so did my writing projects. I was a guest columnist for our local paper while I was homeschooling my children. For several years I quit writing and when God impressed me to pick it up again novel writing became the focus. Secrets & Charades went through several rewrites as I learn the craft of novel writing. It was originally over 100,000 words. Many scenes were deleted never to see the light of day. When I was about to call it a great learning project and start something new I won the Editor’s Choice Award which entitled me professional edits that lead to a contract with LPC publishers. During the time I waited for my manuscript to find a home I did all I could to build a platform (even a small one) by attending conferences, creating a blog and joining Word Weavers. I subscribe to several writing blogs that have helped me grasp so many nuances of the fiction writing life. The people I’ve meant helped me get endorsements for S & C and opened doors for interviews.
Please share something about Secrets & Charades.
Dr. Evangeline Olson is the heroine of Secrets & Charades. But when she goes west as a mail order Bride she surprises her future husband with the truth that she is a doctor. Jake thought he’d been writing Evangeline for a year only to discover her niece had been writing him as Evangeline. Throughout the course of the story, more secrets are revealed surrounding the Double M and the town of Charleton. Evangeline’s past influences her to become a doctor. Experiences in her life since the Civil War have made her a stronger less fragile woman than the average female of the 1800s. Jake’s Civil War service and the nightmares that accompanied him back home to Texas make him determined to make life easier for those he loves. I’ve come to know women who struggle with dark pasts and men with PTSD. I created my story to speak to their hearts. I wanted to remind them their past does not have to define them. Placing their problems in a 1870s setting rather than modern day allows the reader to be distant but still relate.
Historical stories require extensive research. How do you go about researching your stories?
I love the library. And I have a friend who is a history buff who lent me a pile of books. I purchased a few used books mostly diaries and memoirs that help me understand women’s mindsets during the mid-1800s and men dealing with what was then called soldier’s heart. Evangeline’s career and her need to go west as a mail-order bride came out of all that research. Some of the minor characters were based on information gleaned from all my research.
What drew you to the period and setting for the story?
I love American History. After the Civil War, our country changed geographically, politically and scientifically. After the war there were fewer single men on the east coast and while the west lacked women. Mail order brides became the solution. Another change, women were seeking more education and the medical field was growing. Women’s suffrage was coming into its own. My setting is purely fictitious. But the storyline is peppered with real-life events from the time-period.
Is there a message or a spiritual theme in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Ecclesiastes 3:7 He makes all things beautiful in His time. Rough times can lead to opportunities and self-discovery that bring peace and contentment we might never find without them.
God often teaches us something through our writing. What did you learn about life, faith, or yourself in the process of writing Secrets & Charades?
Evangeline was fearless and determined. I find myself not giving up as easily after spending months in her head. I found God’s promises are always faithful. He helped me craft the story and in His time, I received a contract and holding the book in my hand is a constant reminder that His time is always perfect.
Can you tell us anything about any other books being released and/or your current work in process?
My contemporary Romance New Duet comes out May 2018, published by Clean Reads. I got the idea while standing on the podium as part of the worship team. A what-if moment took off from there. The setting is Aurora, Illinois where I’ve lived for over 40 years. I’m excited and blessed to share Isabella and Dan’s story. She’s a widow from an abusive relationship and he’s a wounded warrior trying hard to be normal after losing a leg.
I’m also editing a sequel to Secrets & Charades and starting a third story in the same setting. My mind is full of several other stories both historical and contemporary. We will see which ones make it on paper and between book covers.
Thank you so much, Cindy, for being my guest. I know folks will enjoy Secrets & Charades.
Janet, I am delighted to be here and look forward to making some new friends amongst your followers.
Where can readers find your books?
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/secrets-charades-cindy-ervin-huff/1126086057?ean=9781946016140
What are your social media sites?
Amazon Author Page: